I got a call last night telling me that “a man was down” (if he literally fell and injured himself I think I know where it happened) and “could I please take a couple of extra paper routes?”  The routes in question were small ones and not too far off the beaten path.  Since the weather was supposed to be good I said “sure”.

New routes mean new territory.  I’m not originally from Orillia so I don’t know its streets like the back of my hand.  The first game I played today was “find the right street” game.  It turns out that there are two streets in Orillia with the same name.  They head in the same direction but aren’t connected.  I found one of them pretty easily.  The wrong one.  If I would have looked at the big map carefully in the pick up location I would have seen that the road came to an end and continued on in a different place.  I didn’t look that closely and hence my mistake.  It cost me a little bit of time to go back and look again but the outcome of this game is that I am getting to know the roads around here a lot better.

The next game I played was “find the place where you can park your van”.  Most of the streets I deliver on are small residential ones and they have lots of no parking signs up all along them.  The new streets were no exception.  A little more time wasted looking around but the good part of this game is that it gets me to open my eyes and makes me aware of where I can and cannot park.  You never know when that will come in handy!

After that it was the “find the best way to get to where you think the mailbox might be” game. Some driveways, walkways, sidewalks and steps are absolutely treacherous at this time of year.  I sometimes wonder how these people survive winter.  Either they hibernate (but then how do they get their mail?) or they are thrill seekers.  Each day of winter must be an adventure for them.  It can be quite the adventure for me to actually get to the mailbox.  I’ve only fallen once this winter but I had a few near misses today complete with flailing arms and elongated cries of “whooooa”.  The weather was beautiful but the warmer temperatures added a little bit of water onto already icy paths making them downright hazardous.  I didn’t score high marks for form at this game today but I did manage to stay upright!

Then there’s my favourite game.  I call it “find the mailbox” game.  Mailboxes come in all shapes and sizes and people hang them in some pretty unlikely places.  I’ve gotten much better at this since I’ve realized that not all mailboxes are hung on the exterior of the house.  Clever people put them inside breezeways and between doors (some places have more than one door to go through to actually get into them) but they don’t leave indications for poor delivery people like me saying something like “mailbox this way” with a big arrow.  There are also people who hang their mailboxes quite high up or quite low down.  I guess I naturally think that a mailbox will be about chest high.  Wrong.  Some are almost on the ground and some are non-existent.  I have a house on one street that has a basket outside.  The mailman deposits letters there so I follow suit and put my paper there.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all in mailboxes, you get assigned a new route and you discover that there is even more variety than what you’ve previously encountered.  Today I found a mailbox that was like a cupboard in the side of the house with a cute little door on it.  At least I think it was the mailbox!

Once you find the mailbox, you move onto “find the way to put the paper in the mailbox” game.  Not all mailboxes are created equally.  I definitely have my favourite models.  There are some that I groan when I see.  (Those slots in doors fall into the groaner category.  Papers stuffed with flyers don’t fit through them very well.  I have had some epic battles trying to force papers into those crazily tiny openings!)  Then there are the mailboxes that look like someone’s had battle with them.  Someone like the incredible hulk.  I’m sure there are great stories attached to those battered boxes.  I just wish that whoever tried to kill them had actually succeeded.  It’s very, very challenging to put a folded newspaper into a mailbox that’s been bashed in.  There’s a part of me that wants to take up a collection of donated mailboxes so that I can leave them on needy people’s doorsteps.  Some mailboxes are seriously in that bad shape!

I also got to play the “find a way to get past the angry dog to get to the mailbox” game today.  I looked at the snarling beast and thought to myself “what would Jesus do?”  HA!  I actually thought “these people really don’t want this newspaper do they?”  Today I didn’t have to deliberate long or play the “nice doggie…good doggie” part of the game as I inched forward to the mailbox.  The owners came out when they heard their monstrocity barking (the whole neighbourhood and beyond could hear this one howling) and told me to stay where I was.  They came to me and got the paper.  That was a novel ending to that game.

So, end of story is that for a few hours today I played games of the same genre and mastered them all.  Big points for me.